Tigers Doing What Other Teams Should: Tweetup

According to the Associated Press the Detroit Tigers are hosting a Tweetup for their Twitter followers.

The team plans to hold its first-ever “tweetup” before and during Tuesday’s game against the Seattle Mariners.

Those who follow the club’s official Twitter accounts are being offered a special $10 ticket that get them group seating with fellow “tweeps” in the ballpark’s pavilion section; access to a pregame event; and a Tigers “TweetUp” t-shirt that includes space for their Twitter address.

In addition, the Tigers are to randomly select a few people who buy the Twitter tickets to watch the game in a suite.

This Tweetup idea is a great, nix that, amazing idea. This is a perfect example of something that small market teams in high ranking Social Media cities should employ. If this goes over as a success in Detroit, which was not even ranked in the top 100 Socially Networked cities, then it should be a hit in the top Socially Networked area.

Here are the top 5 teams that could benefit from a Tweetup:

 Team  Social Network City Ranking  Attendance Ranking
 Washington Nationals  1st  20th (53.8% tix sold)
 Seattle Mariners  5th  29th (40.0%)
 Atlanta Braves  2nd  18th (59.6%)
 Cincinnati Reds  11th  21st (53.2%)
 Tampa Bay Rays  31st  24th (49.3%)

 

I placed the Rays in the above list because Orlando was ranked 7th overall in addition to Tampa being 31st. Don’t even ask where St. Petersburg was ranked, the very city in which the Rays play their home games is a horrible city for Social Media while the two biggest cities with-in an hour or so away are two of the top Social Media cities. This would be an easy draw, especially with the large amount of Rays followers, like myself, that are on Twitter.

For $10 you would recieve a ticket to the game, a t-shirt where you can place your Twitter handle and get more followers, a pre-game event, and the chance to sit in a suite. Sounds like a no-brainer idea to me and I would be one of the first to purchase a ticket to such an event. What about you?

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Random Predictions – NL

Continuing on from yesterday’s AL Predictions are my NL predictions. I honestly cannot wait to see the reactions when I tell everyone that…

Atlanta Braves – Nate McLouth is going to revert to 2009 form and go 20/20 with a .350 OBP. Craig Kimbrel will save 20+ games and strike out 100+ as part of the best relief squad in the Majors. Chipper Jones will hit .300 in his final season. Mike Minor will replace Brandon Beachy as the 5th starter by June.

Arizona Diamondbacks – Russell Branyan will set a career high by hitting 35 or more homeruns this season. That’s right! All he needs is playing time and I predict he will gain 3B eligibilty. Joe Saunders will have an ERA north of 5.00. David Hernandez will lead the team in saves with less than 20.

Chicago Cubs – Tyler Colvin will get 500+ plate appearances but will not hit more than 25 homers. There will be more “head case” headlines about Matt Garza than there will be about Carlos Zambrano who will be the better pitcher of the two this year.

Cincinnati Reds – 2010 was more Brandon Phillips norm going forward and he will continue a decline offensively to the tune of .260/.320/.420 at best. The starting rotation will be called overrated by September. Drew Stubbs will be more valuable when factoring ADP than B.J. Upton in fantasy. Jay Bruce will hit 30+ homers but lose defensive value and not be more valuable than he was last year according to fWAR. Aroldis Chapman will finish with less than 5 saves and an ERA above-4.00.

Colorado Rockies – Troy Tulowitzki will win the MVP and be worth close to 8.0 fWAR. Dexter Fowler will break out this year. Jose Lopez still will not hit and be a terrible defender and Ty Wigginton will club 20+ homers. Jason Hammel will finally match his performance with his FIP and post an ERA below-4.00.

Florida Marlins – Mike Stanton will hit 35 homeruns and be very humble about it. Anibal Sanchez will pitch 200+ innings of 3.25 or lower ERA and 175+ strikeouts. Omar Infante will hit closer to his career slash-line of .274/.319/.395 than his last two year’s .316/.359/.408. The 3B position will struggle to combine for a positive fWAR.

Houston Astros – Wilton Lopez will end up with double-digit saves. Brett Wallace will hit .285/.345/.450 and give the Astros hope for the future. The shortstop position will the weakest in the league offensively. Jordan Lyles will be up and be their best pitcher after the trade deadline.

Los Angeles Dodgers – Juan Uribe will set another career high in homers with 25 this season. Jonathan Broxton may lose the closer role but he will still strike out 90+ with an ERA below-3.00. Matt Kemp will be worth +5.0 fWAR or better. Left field will be a revolving door that will never stop and be lucky to produce at a higher level than replacement. A.J. Ellis is the best catcher on the roster but will see the least amount of time.

Milwaukee Brewers – Shaun Marcum will mail a thank you card to the Blue Jays for trading him out of the AL East and will post 200+ innings of 3.25 or lower ERA and 175+ strikeouts. Carlos Gomez and Nyjer Morgan will combine for a wRC of 85 or lower. Jonathan Lucroy and George Kottaras will combine to hit 20 homers.

New York Mets – Carlos Beltran will reach 500 PAs and hit .280/.370/.470 or better. Angel Pagan will again be worth more than 4.0 fWAR. Francisco Rodriguez will not meet his Games Finished clause wheter he finishes the year out with the Mets or not. The Mets will have a fire sale in July and post a better record in the 2nd half and play “spoiler” to postseason contenders.

Philadelphia Phillies – Ryan Howard continues his Cecil Fielder impersonation and hits worse than he did in 2010. Ben Francisco will hit 20 homers and steal 15 bases. Roy Halladay will post even better numbers than last year.

Pittsburgh Pirates – Andrew McCutchen will hit 20 homers and steal 40 bases. Joel Hanrahan will save 30 games and strike out 100+. James McDonald will be the only starting pitcher with more than 2.0 fWAR and he will have higher than 3.0 fWAR.

San Diego Padres – Tim Stauffer will log 175+ innings of sub-3.50 ERA and 125+ strikeouts. Brad Hawpe will lose his starting job by mid-June and struggle to hit above .250 with little-to-no power. Jason Bartlett will hit at least .285/.345/.425 and steal 20+ bases.

San Francisco Giants – Aubrey Huff will get off to a slow start and everyone will scream for Brandon Belt to get playing time. Which he will… in June, and contend for the Rookie of the Year Award by hitting close to .300 with 15+ homers. Jonathan Sanchez will be the best pitcher on the team.

St. Louis Cardinals – Colby Rasmus will hit 30+ homers and steal 15+ bases. Lance Berkman will bounce back to hit .275/.375/.475 with 20+ homers. Kyle McClellan will log 175+ innings of sub-4.00 ERA with 125+ strikeouts. Jason Motte will save 10+ games and record 70+ strikeouts.

Washington Nationals – Michael Morse will hit more homers than Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche. Livan Hernandez will post an ERA north of 5.00 and allow 225+ hits in less than 200 innings. Matt Stairs will hit a homerun for the Nats, his 12th different team.

-Jonathan C. Mitchell can be found writing about the Tampa Bay Rays at his other site Figure Filbert and on twitter at @FigureFilbert

NL/AL Most Improved Lineups

After off-season moves this past season, two teams come to the forefront, in my mind, on who became the most improved in the two different leagues.

(July 19, 2009 – Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images North America)

In the American League, the Baltimore Orioles made a meandering of changes in their lineup this off-season to try to support their young and talented pitching staff. The major off-season acquisitions included Derrek Lee, Mark Reynolds, J.J. Hardy, and Vladimir Guerrero. All four of those players have the power to hit 20 home runs, maybe with the exception of Hardy. He did however hit over 20 in the ’07 and ’08 seasons. The only problem in going this route, you’re not planning for the future. None of these four players will be with the team for more than a couple of years at most.

The interesting aspect what these players bring is the protection that Nick Markakis, Adam Jones and Luke Scott gain in the line up. Lee doesn’t have the same power he once had after his wrist injury, but is still a dangerous hitter. Reynolds will probably continue to strike out at an alarming rate, but will probably still hit 35+ home runs in hitter friendly Camden Yards. He also has to deal with the better pitching in the AL East compared to the much weaker NL West, which could be a problem. Junk ball hitting specialist, Guerrero should be a dangerous hitter in this line up as well. He’s thrived in the DH role with Texas last season, and I expect him to keep the same momentum going. If you figure in a healthy Brian Roberts at the top of the lineup, and a young Matt Wieters behind the plate, it could rival any team in the AL as one of the best lineups.

With the young pitching staff, the team is going to have to put up a lot of runs in order to help these young guys “take their lumps” while they gain more experience. Brian Matusz is poised to have a break out year, and Jeremy Guthrie could have a winning record with his normal ERA in the low fours or high threes. Between young pitchers Chris Tillman, Jake Arrieta and to an extent Brad Bergesen, with veteran Justin Duchscherer could make for an adaquete rotation with a very high ceiling. I’m not expecting a Cy Young winner to emerge from the group, but they could win a number of games with amount of runs the line up could mash in.

Potential Lineup:

Brian Roberts – 2B
Adam Jones – CF
Luke Scott – LF
Vladimir Gurrero – DH
Nick Markakis – RF
Derrek Lee – 1B
Mark Reynolds – 3B
Matt Wieters – C
J.J. Hardy – SS

It’s pretty hard to place all those power hitters in the lineup while trying to make the most sense. This will give coach Buck Showalter the flexibility to have a lot different lineup configurations depending on the pitching match up.  The only hitter on the team that hit over 20 home runs last season was Luke Scott. He should be poised to do the same, and drive in plenty of runs himself. This lineup might be one of the most balanced lineups I’ve ever seen as well. You have two switch hitters, five right handed hitters, and two left handed hitters. Fact of the matter is, they’re also in one of the best divisions in all of baseball. Between the Yankees, Red Sox, Rays and even the Blue Jays, I just don’t foresee them making the playoffs, but they’re going to surprise a lot of people this season. Will they make it out of the cellar? There’s a really good possibility that occurs.

On the NL side of things, the Washington Nationals added some players that give slugger Ryan Zimmerman some extra protection that could even take him up to a next level (if there is one for him). The additions of Jayson Werth and Adam Laroche will add 40-50 home runs from those two batters alone. Werth of  course was the super-star contract acquisition this season, but it’s going to be hard for him to live up to those expectations. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a fantastic player, and knew he was good with the Dodogers; he just needed that change to get regular playing time. He got that with the Phillies and got him a World Series ring in the process.

(August 5, 2009 – Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images North America)

Outfielder Michael Morse appears to have gotten a shot to be the everyday left fielder for the team to start the season. In only 266 ABs, he hit 15 home runs and batted in 41. Assuming enough at-bats for an everyday player through out the season, 30 home runs and 90 RBIs aren’t out of the question for him.

None of the options the team has for center field are all that attractive. I think Nyjer Morgan makes the most sense to me, since he can lead off, so I want to assume they’ll go that route. Last I read; however, Rick Ankiel has the inside track to securing the position, which I’m not sure that is the best option for the team. Without Morgan, they have no true lead off hitter. Roger Bernadina is also in the mix for OF time. Ian Desmond is more suited to be the second batter in the lineup behind Morgan.

Youngster Danny Espinosa, who has 15 home run power is slated to take over duties at 2nd base. Desmond should able to build on a pretty decent rookie campaign from last season. Hot shot catching prospect, Wilson Ramos, who was acquired in the Matt Capps trade with the Twins could start to figure in the lineup too with aging Pudge Rodriquez. It’s also possible that Jesus Flores could factor into the catching spot too, but there has been some interest with him going to Houston when Jason Castro was lost for the season.

Potential Lineup  (How I would construct it):

Nyjer Morgan – CF
Ian Desmond – SS
Ryan Zimmerman – 3B
Jayson Werth – RF
Michael Morse – LF
Adam LaRoche – 1B
Pudge Rodriguez / Wilson Ramos – C
Danny Espinosa – 2B
Pitchers Spot

The pitcher’s spot brings up a really good point: The Washington Nationals rotation and bullpen are a giant mess. Livan Hernandez is _NOT_who you want pitching for you opening day. With Steven Strasburg on the shelf all season, and Jordan Zimmerman having his own injuries last season, the team doesn’t have much to work with. The other three pitchers poised to make the rotation are Jason Marquis, John Lannan and Tom Gorzelanny. They will not be able to compete at all with the Phillies, but could give the Braves and Marlins a kind of “run for their money”. They’re a much better hitting team this season, by spending a lot of money, but with out pitching they don’t stand a chance.

Young closer Drew Storen has seemed to lost his spot at closer as well with a horrid spring with an ERA over 11. I saw last that the team has no official closer announced as of yet. We’ll see what happens there. Tyler Clippard could get some time shutting down games of Storen officially loses it.

Get Set For Some Miraculous Recoveries Just In Time For Free Agency

MLBdirt recently featured a guest post by William J. Tasker, the first of our many guest articles. Presenting our second guest post, we have an article by blogger Rich Daniels. Rich is a very passionate baseball fan and played college baseball for Prince George’s Community College in Largo, Maryland. He went on to work as the Public Address Announcer for the Hagerstown Suns of the South Atlantic League. You can find more of his work on his blog Hit Away. Without further ado, here is Rich’s first article for MLB Dirt.

Ever notice players who are out of the lineup a great deal season after season then seem to put together one of the best years of their careers right before they become a free agent? These contract-year miraculous recoveries happen every season and are often noticed but seldom spoken about to any degree. There are always players like Gary Matthews, Jr. who cash in a career year for a five-year, $50m contract and 2011 will have its share. Here are a few names to keep an eye on as Opening Day approaches.

Suspect #1: Aramis Ramirez, 3B, Cubs. The Dominican native has played only two full seasons out of the last six and one of those, 2006, was his last elite year of production (38 HR, 119 RBI, .291 BA, .913 OPS). Since signing his last contract, a five-year, $75m ditty, Ramirez has played a full season exactly once. Don’t be surprised to see him in the lineup in 2011 despite the little dents and dings he has sat in deference to in past seasons. The reasons? Next season will be the last on his contract and it carries a $16m club option. Ramirez will turn 33 near mid-season so look for 2011 to be a concerted push to get probably his last monster contract.

Suspect #2: Jimmy Rollins, SS, Phillies. With all the attention on the Phillies’ rotation few have taken time to examine the case of the team’s de-facto captain. Rollins signed a five-year, $40m deal after the 2005 season and proceeded to have the two best years of his career. Then his performance began a progressive slide over the next three seasons (BA, OPS and SB all declined from 08’-10’). At 32 Rollins has maybe a year or two left in his prime and one last chance at multi-year, big money deal. With Raul Ibanez and Brad Lidge coming to the ends of their contracts, Rollins will be aimed firmly at the opening budget area the Phillies have coming.

Suspect #3: Rafael Furcal, SS, Dodgers. Another shortstop on the verge of leaving his prime behind and with all the motivation any player would need to produce. At 33 Furcal has battled hamstring and back ailments since the 07’ season highlighted by appearing in only 38 games in 08’. He is in the last year of the three-year, $30m contract he signed following the 08’ season and has one more chance at the big money. The Dodgers hold a $12m club option on him for the 12’ season, but with the incredibly shaky financial status of the team due to the McCourt divorce saga and the pending development of prospect Dee Gordon, the Dodger shortstop will be looking for the greenest pastures possible somewhere else.

Suspect #4: Jose Valverde, CL, Tigers. When he’s good, they say that he’s a bit quirky. When he’s off, he’s just plain weird. The constant distraction of Valverde’s personality has been outweighed by his ability in the past but that’s not likely to come into play this year. The fact is that he hasn’t recorded 40 saves in a season since 08’. The soon to be 33 closer has battled numerous physical issues and topped 70 appearances and 70 IP only once making one wonder about his conditioning and commitment. But look for all that to change in 11’, however, since Valverde has a $9m 2012 club option to pitch for, what would be the highest single season salary of his career. But be assured that “Mound Manny” is well aware that another 40 save, sub 3.00 ERA season will get him big bucks next year.

Others to watch for: Xavier Nady, 1B, Diamondbacks; Jason Marquis, SP, Nationals; Scott Kazmir, SP, Angels; Erik Bedard, SP, Mariners; J.D. Drew, OF, Red Sox; Luis Castillo, 2B, Mets.

Bonus Prediction! Big contract flame-out of 2011: Adrian Beltre, 3B, Rangers.

My 2011 MLB Predicitons

Troy Tulowitzki

I decided to dig a little deeper and lay out my predicitons from our inaugural post with the Win-Loss records and award winners that go up to five deep.

While I do not use fancy projection systems like PECOTA or Marcels, I do run my own numbers to try and garner a win total for a team based on my 2011 projections for that team’s players. By doing that, most teams end up with an extra win or two because I cannot predict injuries that ruin a player’s entire season and I have to trim those extra wins in order to make sure the total wins match the total losses (I usually end up with about 30 more wins than losses with my initial numbers). That is where some of the “human element” comes in to play.

With that, here are my projected standings and awards:

AL East
1. Red Sox (94-68)
2. Rays (90-72) (Wild Card)
3. Yankees (89-73)
4. Blue Jays (82-80)
5. Orioles (77-85)

AL Central
1. White Sox (87-75)
2. Twins (86-76)
3. Tigers (84-78)
4. Indians (70-92)
5. Royals (61-101)

AL West
1. Rangers (90-72)
2. Athletics (86-76)
3. Angels (78-84)
4. Mariners (65-97)

NL East
1. Phillies (94-68)
2. Braves (89-73) (Wild Card)
3. Marlins (79-83)
4. Mets (77-85)
5. Nationals (73-89)

NL Central
1. Cardinals (90-72)
2. Brewers (87-75)
3. Reds (87-75)
4. Cubs (80-82)
5. Astros (66-96)
6. Pirates (63-99)

NL West
1. Rockies (88-74)
2. Giants (86-76)
3. Dodgers (81-81)
4. Padres (81-81)
5. Diamondbacks (70-92)

World Series

Rockies over Red Sox in 7.

World Series MVP

Dexter Fowler

MVP
AL: Adrian Gonzalez, Evan Longoria, Nelson Cruz, Shin-Soo Choo, Miguel Cabrera

NL: Troy Tulowitzki, Chase Utley, Albert Pujols, Ryan Braun, Ryan Zimmerman

Cy Young
AL: Jon Lester, Felix Hernandez, Brett Anderson, David Price, Dan Haren

NL: Roy Halladay, Adam Wainwright, Cliff Lee, Tim Lincecum, Mat Latos

Rookie of the Year
AL: Jeremy Hellickson, J.P. Arencibia, Hank Conger, Kyle Drabek, Jesus Montero

NL: Domonic Brown, Freddie Freeman, Aroldis Chapman, Brandon Belt, Kenley Jansen

Comback Player of the Year
AL: Grady Sizemore, Conor Jackson

NL: Carlos Beltran, Pablo Sandoval

-Jonathan C. Mitchell can be found writing about the Tampa Bay Rays at his other site Figure Filbert and on twitter at @FigureFilbert

MLB Dirt Predictions

Welcome readers and this is MLB Dirt, your baseball headquarters for news, analysis, and everything baseball. In our inaugural article, we have posted our predictions for the upcoming Major League Baseball season.

You will find our predictions for each division, the playoffs, and who we think will win this year’s major awards in each league. This is the first step in the development and expansion of the site. Please tell your friends about MLB Dirt and be prepared to get dirty in baseball news.

For more MLB Dirt, make sure you follow us on Twitter @MLBdirt and “like us on Facebook

Without further ado, here are the 2011 Dirt Predictions:

 Division  Mitchell  MLB Reports  Schwartze
 AL East 1. Red Sox
2. Rays*
3. Yankees
4. Blue Jays
5. Orioles
1. Rays
2. Red Sox*
3. Blue Jays
4. Yankees
5. Orioles
1. Red Sox
2. Rays
3. Yankees
4. Orioles
5. Blue Jays
 AL Central 1. White Sox
2. Twins
3. Tigers
4. Indians
5. Royals
1. White Sox
2. Tigers
3. Twins
4. Royals
5. Indians
1. Twins
2. White Sox
3. Tigers
4. Indians
5. Royals
 AL West 1. Rangers
2. Athletics
3. Angels
4. Mariners
1. Rangers
2. Athletics
3. Angels
4. Mariners
1. Rangers
2. Athletics*
3. Mariners
4. Angels
 NL East 1. Phillies
2. Braves*
3. Marlins
4. Mets
5. Nationals
1. Phillies
2. Braves
3. Nationals
4. Marlins
5. Mets
1. Phillies
2. Braves*
3. Mets
4. Marlins
5. Nationals
 NL Central 1. Cardinals
2. Brewers
3. Reds
4. Cubs
5. Astros
6. Pirates
1. Reds
2. Cardinals*
3. Brewers
4. Cubs
5. Astros
6. Pirates
1. Cardinals
2. Brewers
3. Reds
4. Cubs
5. Pirates
6. Astros
 NL West 1. Rockies
2. Giants
3. Dodgers
4. Padres
5. Diamondbacks
1. Dodgers
2. Rockies
3. Giants
4. Padres
5. Diamondbacks
1. Rockies
2. Dodgers
3. Giants
4. Diamondbacks
5. Padres

* Wild Card Winner

Awards:

 Award  Mitchell  MLB Reports  Schwartze
 AL Cy Young 1. Jon Lester
2. Felix Hernandez
1. C.J. Wilson
2. J. Papelbon
1. Jon Lester
2. Felix Hernandez
 AL MVP 1. Adrian Gonzalez
2. Evan Longoria
1. Adam Dunn
2. Miguel Cabrera
1. Evan Longoria
2. Adrian Gonzalez
 AL ROY 1. J. Hellickson
2. J.P. Arencibia
1. J. Hellickson
2. Kyle Drabek
1. J. Hellickson
2. Nick Weglarz
 AL Come Back 1. Grady Sizemore
2. Conor Jackson
1. Brad Penny
2. Alex Gordon
1. Josh Beckett
2. Grady Seizmore
 NL Cy Young 1. Roy Halladay
2. A. Wainwright
1. Roy Halladay
2. Cliff Lee
1. Cliff Lee
2. A. Wainwright
 NL MVP 1. Troy Tulowitzki
2. Chase Utley
1. Albert Pujols
2. Andre Ethier
1. Hanley Ramirez
2. Albert Pujols
 NL ROY 1. Domonic Brown
2. Freddie Freeman
1. Brandon Belt
2. Julio Teheran
1. Aroldis Chapman
2. Mike Minor
 NL Come Back 1. Carlos Beltran
2. Pablo Sandoval
1. Carlos Pena
2. Jesus Flores
1. Javier Vasquez
2. Carlos Beltran

 

World Series

 Picks  Mitchell  MLB Reports  Schwartze
 AL Champ  Red Sox  Rays  Red Sox
 NL Champ  Rockies  Phillies  Phillies
 WS Champ  Rockies  Phillies  Red Sox

On The Verge – Ryan Tatusko

At MLB reports we will be running an occasional series titled “On the Verge” where we profile a prospect about to hit the MLB scene.  In today’s feature included in mlbdirt.com, we profile Ryan Tatusko of the Washington Nationals.

Ryan was born March 27, 1985.  Standing 6’5” and weighing a solid 200 lbs, 2010 represented a breakout year for the right-handed pitching Tatusko.  He was drafted in the 18th round of the 2007 draft by the Texas Rangers out of Indiana State University (hometown Merrillville, Indiana).  After the 3 ½ seasons climbing up the Rangers system, Tatusko was traded on July 30, 2010 with fellow pitcher Tanner Roark for shortstop Christian Guzman. At the time of the trade, Tatusko was pitching for AA Frisco, both starting and relieving.  After being acquired by the Nationals, Tatusko finished 2010 exclusively as a starter for AA Harrisburg. 

From 2007-2009, Tatusko did not have numbers that jumped out.  ERAs each year of 4.13, 4.46 and 4.64, records of 3-7, 3-11 and 7-6, in addition to WHIPs of 1.347, 1.372 and 1.338.  A young developing pitcher, but not one on the “radar” so to speak.  In the 1st half of 2010 with Frisco, Tatusko pitched in 24 games, 13 as a starter.  His record was 9-2 with a 2.97 ERA and 1.340 WHIP.  Definitely solid numbers, but a breakout was still in order.  That breakout occurred in the 2nd half of his 2010 season with Harrisburg, where Tatusko pitched in 6 games entirely as a starter, to a sparkling 3-1 record, 1.72 ERA and 1.173 WHIP.  His SO/BB ratio with Frisco was 1.45 and ballooned to 2.77 with Harrisburg.  When I review these numbers, I see a Kyle Drabek type pitcher at the beginning of 2010 and a Stephen Strasburg clone at the end.

Looking at Ryan’s final 2010 numbers combined in AA, we see a 12-3 record, with a 2.63 ERA and 1.295 WHIP.  From an 18th round pick with a microscopic chance of advancement in professional baseball, Ryan is a pitcher likely ticketed for AAA to start 2011 and could end up with the big club sometime between the all-star break and September.

I have had a pleasure to chat with Ryan on a couple of occasions by e-mail and did some research on him as well.  Tatusko has a strong curveball as well as good command of 3 other pitches- fastball, changeup and slider.  The debate early in his career was whether he would remain a starter or be moved permanently to the bullpen.  Young pitchers in the minors are often eased through both roles in the hopes that they will excel in one given spot.  As a 4-pitch pitcher and coming off a strong finish in 2010, Tatusko will likely be a full-time starter for the foreseeable future.  A student of the game, Tatusko keeps journals of his work and watches video in working on and perfecting his mechanics.  A tireless student of the game, Tatusko has the will and ambition to succeed at the pro-level, which is often described as “90% mental and 10% physical”.

Running into growing pains and adversity early in his career was likely a very good thing for Ryan.  Too often in the MLB we see hotshot prospects rushed to the majors, only to have their careers cut short by injuries or failed confidence.  By building his time up in the minors the right way, Tatusko has been able to prove himself and rise up the prospects ladder.  The Nationals going into 2011 are in an interesting situation pitching wise.  They have a young highly touted closer in Storen, that is expected to close for the club for the next decade.  The starting rotation however, is filled with questions marks and landmines.  Livian Hernandez is currently tabbed as the opening day starter.  Enough said.  From there we see the other potential starters being Marquis, Zimmerman, Lannan and Maya.  In the mix we have injured starters Strasburg and Wang who are not certain as to the roles they could play in 2011.  As soon as an opening arises, Tatusko will be one of the first to be called up this year.  If Ryan is able to grow in 2011 the way he did in 2010, his first stay in Washington could be permanent.

Ryan Tatusko is a man who eats, breathes, sleeps and bleeds professional baseball.  Talking to him, I got the sense that this was a ballplayer with no sense of entitlement that has worked hard and earned everything that he has accomplished.  Good luck to Ryan on the 2011 campaign and we all look forward to watching you as you continue your baseball journey to the show.